February 1, 2024

How HR can embed DEI into company policies and workplace practices

Human Resources teams can strengthen organizational culture by embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into company policies and workplace practices. This is the key to boosting employee engagement, retention, and morale.

When HR is a strategic partner, companies are 1.3 times more likely to be highly effective at DEI, according to McLean & Company. But the partnership between HR and DEI teams isn’t always a smooth experience.

Both departments have intense workloads, struggling to secure executive buy-in while working toward separate goals. Effective collaboration requires HR and DEI teams to get aligned on their priorities and use company data to help make equitable decisions.

Since HR teams are responsible for managing and overseeing employee-related processes throughout the employee lifecycle, they have the power to help build a culture of learning, transparency, and belonging. The first step is integrating DEI into the following workplace policies, programs, and practices.

Provide company-wide DEI training.

When your entire team – including HR – participates in a company-wide DEI training, there’s a shared understanding of each individual’s role in creating a culture of belonging.

Employees learn what microaggressions are, how to uncover their unconscious biases, and how these biases lead to inequity. They also confront their own privileges and leave the workshop with action steps on how to be allies to other historically underrepresented groups.

HR can incorporate this workshop into the employee onboarding process for new hires and collaborate with senior managers to ensure every team member participates. HR can also implement a tracking system to hold individuals accountable and reinforce the company’s commitment to DEI.

Develop an inclusive recruiting process.

Your recruitment process tells a prospective employee a lot about your company. More than 76% of employees and job seekers say a diverse workplace is important to them when they’re choosing a job, so it’s critical to make DEI a key component of your employer brand.

Here’s how HR teams can help eliminate bias in the hiring process and intentionally recruit top talent from historically underrepresented communities:

  • Diversify your candidate pool: Partner with professional organizations that center historically excluded groups, such as Disability:IN, National MBA Association, or Pride At Work. Participate in job fairs, attend conferences, and explore job boards with a large database of diverse candidates.
  • Examine your interview panels: Invite employees from diverse backgrounds to participate. Your interview panels should show diversity in age, gender, education level, position in the company, and years of experience. This diversity brings a different perspective to the interview table.
  • Ensure all job descriptions are inclusive: Review and revise job descriptions to remove any biases and make sure language focuses on the essential qualifications and skills required for the job, rather than personal traits that are irrelevant to the job.
  • Provide training for hiring managers on how to mitigate biases: We all have biases and when hiring managers aren’t aware of them, they can negatively impact the hiring process. At Perfeqta, our Deconstructing Implicit Biases training has provided hiring teams with new strategies on how to be more inclusive during the recruitment process.
  • Create a system of continuous improvement: You can’t change what you don’t measure. Make sure you’re asking for feedback from candidates once the hiring process is done. Track diverse hiring metrics and regularly review these metrics to assess progress and identify areas for improvement.

Remember, you have to be open to changing and growing to create a fully inclusive hiring process.

Create formal policies that address discrimination and microaggressions in the workplace.

Learning about DEI in a company-wide training is pointless if it is not reflected in your organization’s policies. Leaders need to create non-discrimination policies that are zero tolerance and have a plan for violation.

Here’s where to start:

  • Conduct a thorough review of your current policies to identify how they can be more inclusive. Analyze previous incidents, complaints, and feedback from employees to understand what’s gone wrong in the past.
  • Clearly outline what constitutes discrimination and microaggressions in the workplace. Provide examples of such behaviors, covering areas like race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and more.
  • Establish reporting mechanisms and develop a confidential and accessible reporting process for employees to report incidents of discrimination and microaggressions. Let employees know they can raise concerns without fear of retaliation.

When establishing these policies, be clear about how the company will investigate and address complaints, and the consequences of violating these policies.

Create a feedback loop so employees feel seen and heard.

The best way to make sure employees feel valued is by encouraging them to give feedback on what is and isn’t working, and what changes the company can make in the future.

HR can collect employee feedback through surveys, focus groups, one-on-one meetings, or Employee Resource Groups.

The next step is for companies to take action. When employees provide feedback, they invest time and trust in the organization, expecting their concerns and suggestions to be valued. Failing to act can lead to disengagement and make employees feel that feedback is a token gesture.

Acting on feedback fosters a culture of transparency and motivates employees to contribute more, ultimately driving organizational success.

Evaluate your company's DEI progress to build a more inclusive culture

Perfeqta created a free quiz that helps leaders assess their company’s DEI maturity in minutes. 

You answer 20 questions about your company’s current DEI initiatives and we’ll show you where you fall within our 5-stage maturity model. We also send immediate recommendations on how to evolve DEI at your organization.

Take the quiz today and learn more about your company’s current state of DEI.

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